|Posted by talfanzine on April 23, 2011 at 2:42 PM|
The recent 'viable' nail bomb devices discovered in transit to the Celtic manager Neil Lennon and 'high profile Celtic supporters' marks a new departure in the conflict that is lovingly referred to in Scottish sports media circles as the 'Old Firm Divide'. However, this represents only a new departure in terms of tactics rather than overall strategy, because Celtic fans have for years been the victims of a low level terrorist campaign of racist and sectarian attacks against them by an extreme loyalist element that attaches itself to the Rangers Football Club and for which the term 'zero tolerance' applies only to the 'taigs' and tims for whom they hold such irrational hatred.
This latest 'crackdown' on the peddlers ofinternet hate campaigns will be a mostly superficial, public relations driven non-event that will hardly scratch the surface of the real underlying problem of loyalist-inspired 'sectarianism' and anti-Irish/anti-Catholic hatred.
As a lawyer Paul McBride QC has a somewhat blind faith in the ability of the law to provide a solution to this problem. In his interview with the BBC it is interesting that he named everyone - (the clubs, the managers, the players, thepolice, the courts, the politicians) - that is everyone, except those with the power to make the necessary changes - THE FANS. As one of the intended recipients of the nail bombs, Mr McBride is more than most entitled to his opinion, but it is a predictable call for action from someone who makes a living from the law, entirely understandable, but in the opinion of this blogger, also entirely incorrect as long as the proposed solution does not include the source of the problem - the rangers support.
Any 'solution' that does not involve the supporters as its main component is not a solution, it's a smokescreen for a more authoritarian approach by those who run football, government and the law. In other words, the long-awaited 'solution' will be administered by those who refused to acknowledge that the problem existed in the first place. Remember also that this demand for a 'crackdown' by the forces of law and order is an appeal to those very same forces of law and order who 'advised' a media blackout of the nail bomb story. Were it not for the endeavours of Irish journalist Phil MacGiollaBhain we might still be none the wiser.
Had the institutions of football acted years ago to face down the loyalist-fascist bigots that attach themselves to rangers, and called sectarian attacks and racist murders for what they really were, we may not have reached the current situation of bullets and bombs in the post. Indeed lives may well have been saved and the situation defused by such a proactive campaign against bigotry rather than encouraged by a combination of the deliberate misrepresentation of racism as 'sectarianism', political and legal inaction and the deafening silence of the Scottish press. These issues were pointed out by us some years ago when TAL Fanzine initiated Celtic Fans Against Fascism and the Campaign Against Sectarian Attacks. We opined at the time that unless institutionalised anti-Irish racism (aka 'sectarianism') was seriously confronted from the bottom-up the problem would inevitably get bigger... Well, it can't get much bigger than this, can it?
No matter how any of us, as Celtic supporters and the intended victims of the hatred and abuse, feel about the fans of rangers, ultimately this issue can only be addressed and solved by a sea-change within their support. It is finding those in their own fanbase who are prepared to stand up publicly and consistently against racism, fascism and loyalism that will be the hardest task of all, but if we are to be politically consistent we must continue to call for and hope that the 'silent minority' among them will become a vocal and proactive majority.
I am not in favour of the draconian solution of simply locking people up for what they write or what they think...That road leads to the gradual eradication of the civil liberties and human rights of all, including the rights of those who would stand against racism and fascism. Moreover, it allows those in positions of power to continue to peddle the myth - the OSABATO line - that 'One Side's As Bad As The Other', depicting the victims of racism and 'sectarianism' as being in some way the architects of their own misfortune.
A democratic society has to utilise all means at its disposal in an effort to re-educate and rehabilitate those whose societal alienation produces only hate, violence and anti-social behaviour. The present approach of censorship (silence) followed by the lock and key (crackdown) is a short term fix rather than a long term solution. In regard to actual attacks and incitement, obviously there are exceptions, and where someone is actively involved in turning internet fantasies into reality they should be dealt with by the full force of the law.
However, legal solutions have little effect on cultural, religious and political perceptions, which are deep-rooted and ingrained. The real solution lies in finding ways to reach out and/or isolate this alienated section of the rangers support, without pandering to their odious fascistic views.